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Proofreading – It’s Not Just for Looks

Punctuation Marks

The best writing is made better by a great proofreader. Taking the time to proofread and edit your work shows respect for your work and the reader. Strict deadlines may tempt writers to omit the step, but rushing can spoil an otherwise great effort.

I learned the importance of proofing in my first stint at an agency. Elise the proofreader returned my first copy deck with red marks and strikeouts all over the page. At first, I was floored. Within a few short weeks I learned that the proofreader was my best friend. I focused more on crafting the message and less on the semicolon. I remember most grammar rules and do understand the difference between the colon and semicolon. I learned quite a bit from the Electric Company. (Video Below) But, I am aware that I am much more adept at finding the right word than I am at comma placement. I need proof.

Grammar check helps with the basics. It’s a handy tool but it’s no Elise and it’s no substitute for understanding basic grammar rules. Hiring a full-time proofreader may not be in your budget, but contracting the right editor is a most prudent use of funds. Projects that require extensive research and attention to detail are served well by a second set of eyes.

The best draft can be spoiled by a misspelled or missing word – both of which are easy mistakes to make when proofing your own work. For large, important projects, I suggest that you splurge and pay a great editor/proofreader for 3-4 hours of his or her time. If that’s just not an option, here are some tips to help eliminate errors.

  1. Add time. Once you’re completed an assignment or project, put it down. Wait at least an hour before you pick it up again. For larger projects, add a day if possible. The time away will allow you to view the project with fresher eyes.
  2. Read aloud. Taking a second to read your emails, letters or short written projects out loud forces you to slow down. Not only will you recognize grammar errors more quickly, but you’ll also notice bad word choice and run on sentences.
  3. Learn your flaws. The more you proof your work, the more you’ll recognize your subconscious tendencies to make the same mistake. For some reason, Tennessee gives me the hardest time. Even though I know how to spell it, I type it incorrectly.
  4. Check the resources. Use the web for backup when you don’t have an Elise to keep your commas in check. There are more tips here at Purdue Online Writing Lab.

(Hey 70’s kids, remember the Electric Company? VIDEO: Punc – punc- punc – punc – punctuation, they are the little marks that use their influence to help a sentence make more sense)

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One comment on “Proofreading – It’s Not Just for Looks

  1. Laneth Sffarlenn
    08/26/2010

    Thanks for writing such a positive and thorough article on the importance of including a proofreader in your writing cycle. It’s refreshing to see that people do indeed find proofreading valuable and recognise the benefits that come along with a properly proofed document.

    I look forward to reading more articles here on the DORO blog 🙂

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This entry was posted on 08/25/2010 by in DOOR #3, Fix That Ad! and tagged , , , , , , , , , , .
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